According to a 2019 report by Reuters, states in the American South have closed 1,200 polling stations since a Supreme Court decision to weaken a voting-discrimination law in 2013.
In Texas, more than 1 in 10 voting locations have been closed. In Arizona, the number is 1 in 5. Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi closed in in 20. Unsurprisingly, many people have labelled the move as a form of voter suppression.
And now, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is offering to pay to reopen locations in the South. "I’ve been thinking about this a lot," said in reference to the report. "I’m a fanatic about voting. Most people call closing polls voter suppression. Some say it is 'budgetary.' What if I made it easy & solved the budgetary issue? How much would it cost to reopen polling places?"
He went on to ask: "Is closing polling stations about making it harder for minorities to vote, or is it because of budgets? If you say it’s because of your budget, let’s talk."
This is a serious question. Is closing polling stations about making it harder for minorities to vote, or is it because of budgets? If you say it’s because of your budget, let’s talk.— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) September 2, 2020
Unsurprisingly, the offer attracted a positive response from social media users. "I applaud this because Cher is out here trying to volunteer at the post office and Arnold is trying to help with the budget shortfalls," one user wrote. "That is patriotism."
While another added: "Thank you for talking about this, Arnold. People should be able to exercise their right to vote in a safe, convenient, and time-efficient way. Everyone should have easy access to their polling location. Everyone's voice should matter."
And one user concluded: "I think it is wonderful and patriotic of you to be thinking this way but I wonder if it is wise to start privately funding polling places. It will open you up to charges of funding areas where you want to turn out the vote and not funding places that disagree with you."